St. Louis, MO (KTRS) More than 1200 registered sex offenders are unaccounted for in the state of Missouri.
That’s according to findings Auditor Nicole Galloway released Monday on an audit of the state’s sexual offender registered program. Galloway says when convicted sex offenders fail to register, law enforcement agencies need to act, such as issuing arrest warrants.
“Law enforcement can’t track the location of registered sex offenders if sex offender laws are not enforced,” Galloway said. “This also takes away the ability of Missourians to effectively use the sex offender registry when making decisions to protect themselves and their families.”
Galloway explained that a non-compliant offender could be arrested during a routine traffic stop if a warrant was issued. Without a warrant, an officer would have no idea the offender was not in compliance with the state’s registered sex offender program.
The audit found that less than 10 percent of non-compliant offenders had an active arrest warrant against them.
The audit showed fourteen counties and St. Louis City where this problem persists. Galloway says nearly 800 of these unaccounted for sex offenders are listed in the state’s Tier III category, which is considered the most dangerous offenders.
The audit also pointed to the need for the Missouri State Highway Patrol to improve its procedures for maintaining the SOR database and supporting local law enforcement efforts to enforce registration requirements. This would include updating the compliance status of offenders in accordance with internal policy, and establishing agreements with other state agencies to perform batch data matches to locate absconders or determine if sex offenders were actually deceased.
Galloway said the Legislature should make revisions to strengthen state law, both on allowing the State Auditor’s Office to access necessary court records when auditing the sexual offender registration program, and on requiring background checks for school volunteers.
Missouri has nearly 16,000 offenders required to register.